CATCOM DYNAMIC E–NEWSLETTER, 2015
Updated: 28 December 2015
MEMORIAL DAY, 25 MAY 2015:
If there were a symbol of Memorial Day it should be the folded flag given the family upon the death of a veteran. The echoes from taps and rifle salute fade like memories, but the triangle of white stars on a field of blue remains. It’s instantly self explanatory and uniquely American; it identifies and celebrates someone who served when the country called.
They may have died young in battle then escorted home for this last dreamless sleep, or arrived after having lived their full number of years; it matters not as it speaks to a critical moment in time when heroes were needed that they stepped forward.
Bill Mauldin, the creator of the iconic World War Two dogfaces Willie and Joe, wrote about those exposed to actual combat in one form or another as belonging to “The Benevolent and Protective Brotherhood of Them What Has Been Shot At.” Those in the brotherhood form the front row in the chorus of our countryís most admired champions. Behind them stand their supporting forces, sustaining family, and, ultimately, all of us.
They did not join the military to die for their country. Ours is not a nation that demands nor celebrates suicidal jihad, but one that desires all her sons and daughters return home whole to enjoy an untroubled life. No, they saw their soldierly experience as a means of advancing the desire shared by all Americans, from the exalted like Washington and Lincoln to the humble like Willie and Joe, to make ours the more perfect union.
Itís wrong to think that those who repose in Elysian Fields scattered about the globe “gave their life” - even in that last moment before oblivion took them they strove to live another day – rather their divine gift of existence was cruelly snatched away. In that terrible moment their oath to country was forever redeemed by forces hostile to us, their sublime contribution greater than we dare ask of anyone.
Today when we stand on consecrated grounds with the blissful white stones stretching out like a great fan in perfect symmetry, listening to the flag they defended snap in the wind and watch the silent searchers looking for a father or son or sister, it is our moment to acknowledge not just the sacrifice of those at rest here, but of our moral debt to them.
Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg informed us, “Ö that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The smartly folded flag and the rituals of honor paid are more than just symbols of a nationís gratitude; they are a reminder that from the exploits of these courageous men and women great deeds are expected of us.
Harry Puncec is a retired printer and long–ago soldier living in Lakewood, Colorado
Additional reading: Distinguished retired Marine addresses crowd at Bergen military appreciation day
LIST OF ARTICLES: (click to go direct)
- SP4 Leonard C. Brand, Crew Chief, Phu Bai and 3rd Platoon, Marble Mountain, June 1966–June 1967, checked in and is signed up for email and now on the roster. A photograph of Len Brand is now on the roster.
- A missing USMC AO was added, thank to the resurgent memory of Raymond Caryl. 2LT James M. “Jim,” Sanders, reported deceased, 1st Marine Division AO, February 1967 to March 1968, now has his rightful entry on our roster. Jim’s call signs were Benchmark 2/Blackcoat 2. I have not yet located an obituary, but there is a Silver Star award award received in Vietnam appended to his roster line.
- 1LT Jay Gallagher was at Hue–Citadel with the 2nd Plt when WO Mike Misenheimer arrived there. I [Gene Wilson] personally can’t recall him. Mike mentioned him at one of the mini–reunions and was hoping to locate a photo. He was probably there late 1965 — early 1966.
Mike was assigned to the 92nd Caribou Company before he was transferred to the 220th, probably with the impending transfer of the CV–2 to the USAF. After basic flight school he completed CV–2 transition—obviously a good aviator. He had no problem flying the O–1 on instruments. We now know who was awarded one of the Air Medals with “V” device, a downgrade from the second recommendation for a DFC. [Editor: Jay is now on our roster, and as you can see below he wore a Catkiller patch in 1966.]
An historical note and comment to Bob Covino from Gene Wilson: (9 April)
If I were a betting man, I would guess that Jay was the rated Signal Corps aviator/officer who came in as your replacement . MAJ Curry wisely kept you and Jay was assigned to the 2nd Platoon – as I learned from Mike Misenheimer just a short time ago. To the best of my knowledge the 220th did not see many, if any, rated Signal Corps aviators – probably because they were in greater demand in other branch associated assignments. It might appear that Jay was later reassigned to a rated Signal Corps requirement. Toby Decker, a 2LT non–rated Signal Corps ‘Kiwi’, followed you and further proved while I was in the 220th that we didn’t need an aviator to take care of our avionics and other radio needs. I can remember Toby and Duane Glatz, our Flight Surgeon, both of whom were in my back seat at some time. We seem to have lost track of our Sig Det COs and Flt Surgeons who supported and were part of us after 1967. Toby attended our 2012 reunion in Seattle and has also attended mini–reunions with a group of fellow Catkillers in other places. It was and is still great to have continued relationships with both of you. Your recent photos of 1965–66 have been a super addition to the 220th history on the Catkiller website.
SP5 Dennis Iaeger checked in and joined the MailChimp delivery, after a long absence. Dennis sent a note and the photo below. Welcome back home, Dennis!:
Service at Phi Bai November 1969 to December 1970, wand my DMOS was 68G20, Airframe repair. I think the 1st Sgt. was Pinatola(sp), large Hawaiian man laughed and said they use that MOS in Da Nang—you're working on the flight line so did that almost the whole time. I also did a 30–day stint manning the fuel truck and refueling the Birddogs at Dong Ha and went on several convoys to Da Nang over High Van Pass as a guard, in case we were shot at—but thank God that never happened.
[Editor: In 1970–71, 1SGT Donald T. Kunimura (Kailua, HI ) is shown on our roster as the 1SGT, followed by 1SGT Pedro F. Toves (Salinas, CA). Our records are not as complete as we would like for all enlisted men and non–commissioned officers.]
SP5 Edwin H Barsis, Crew Chief, Dong Ha, 1967, shows off a new ‘Fighting’ 4th Platoon sign (On The Ready 24 Hours A Day!) and helps identify some of the “Movers and Shakers” responsible for making things work on a daily basis. This photo will also dress up the ALL–PLATOON LOOSE PHOTOS page (see HISTORY INDEX 8). A big Thank You to Steve Badger and others for continuing to share so many historical photographs:
I am leading the creation of 5 “Purple Heart Cities” in Central Oregon and a “Purple Heart Trail” on Oregonís 338 mile Interstate 5. Creating a “Purple Heart City” is quite simple. Both will honor Oregon’s 6,000 KIAs and 15,000 WIAs. For instance, there are 5 Purple Heart City signs we will soon install at city limits of Bend, Oregon, next month.
Our CATCOM site lists Catkiller KIAs (26) and WIAs (27). I wonder if their families know about the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor where their loved ones can be enrolled and honored:
Also at Hue with the 2nd Platoon at this time was 1LT (later CPT) Jerry D. Jackson:
While Troy Duplessis Quang Ngai, 1967, has not been lost, his photographs have. Recent searches through his “Hope–To–Forget Chest” produced several photos we will share with you as they are processed. However, one recently received close up of this young lieutenant in 1967 deserves a place in the roster, and now a fuller version here:
A recent inquiry from a relative requesting photos of Captain Gene Hayes resulted in several we shared with the family. In the process of looking over photographs credited to Captain Charles Finch we identified individuals on these photos as well, of which we would like to share three of those with everyone:
- Anyone having a photograph of Major Charles F. Hammel, USMC AO Team Chief, 1966–67, please contact the editor.
Why change something that has been so effective as a forum?
Some of the more obvious descriptive words come to mind when I look into the mirror are: Older, wiser, tired looking, burned out, and just a strong feeling I have done enough are a few ‘reasons’ I might choose to expound upon, but I won’t bore you. Predominantly, my real life-changing reasons are marriage, selling a home, moving, combining households, and family matters. I trust most of you understand this. As Donna says, ‘There’s more to life than a computer.”
Since 2002, as I first published the new web site seen today, I have devoted a disproportionate amount of my single–person free time to the Catkiller web site. Together with contributors, several of us have added considerable unit history that actually represents a good–sized book, as much as anyone could write about the intimate service to our country by Catkillers and Friends. The fact that so much of the ‘story’ surfaced that was worthy of publication overwhelmed us at times! The work is nearly finished, we have a little more to go, but our results are stored with the Center of Military History. We can with confidence declare that we are well documented.
Credit for the excellent hard and productive work goes to everyone who contributed their material, time and attention to the goal we set of recording as much as we could gather. The assistance, hard work and dedication of Gene Wilson, Dennis Currie, Ray Caryl were the means and bridge we, Catkillers and Friends, needed to get the job done. I am thankful the be a part of all the initiatives we began to advertise after the initial start–up site by Scott Cummings.
Let’s see how it works!
Donald M. Ricks, Editor/Webmaster
♥ ♥ ♥ ONLINE REGISTRATION CLOSED! ♥ ♥ ♥
FINAL UPDATE FOR REUNION INFORMATION
[Attendee names and data redacted for publication; original attendee list was sent to all registered attendees
UPDATE INFO—GRAM FROM THE CHAIRMAN: (10 September)
Dear Reunion Registrant: [The link below is a PDF file, just click on the link]
ALL BIRDDOG UNIT REUNION- UPDATE 29 September 2015REMEMBER, Hotel Reservations are now at the Country Inn & Suites Phone (334)–479–8900
Attendee List and Personal Data Redacted for Publication.
If you registered you should have a full Final Info Brief without the list redacted. Don Ricks]
FINAL REUNION UPDATE INFO Go to website https://afr-reg.com/birddog2015/
SEE EVERYONE OCTOBER 8TH!!
All Birddog Unit Reunion Committee
Co-Chair Steve Butler- 219th / Co-Chair Charlie Mingus —183rd / Co–Chair Dick Baker—219th /Dave Miller— 219th /Charles Barnes — 219th / Hiram Johnston — 183rd / John Ritz — 219th / Don Vaughn — 199th / Rod Stewart — 220th / Sam Dawson — IBDA / Marcus Mitchell — 183rd / David Haidle — 183rd / Mike Medlin, Friends of Army Aviation / Ted & Molly Dey — AFRI
MESSAGE: (16 May):
Message From The Catkiller Internal Reunion Coordinator (Rod Stewart is the All–Birddog Unit Representative):
Several of you have written or called me to discuss what the 220th is going to do as a unit at the reunion in Panama City Beach, Florida on Oct 6-11. Many of you have not registered so I am not sure how many of our Catkillers will actually attend. If you look at the reunion schedule, there is not a lot of free time for us to have a formal get together. Most arrive on Thursday, which has a Welcome Reception that evening.
Friday is the day we all make trip to Ft Rucker and that evening is free, although the return time from Rucker may be later than 5 PM. That night will be the best time for us to get together as the next night is the reunion dinner.
We have a hospitality room but the size of the room will be determined by each unit's representation. If 5 units have more than us, they will obviously be entitled to a bigger room. I will try to determine if the smallest hospitality room would accommodate us. So, if the room is too small, I would have to research what else is available in the area. I know that an additional expense is not what anyone wants but what other alternative do we have. The resort is fairly large but as some have suggested, “Just have it out by a pool or the beach.”
I need your input and I will try do everything that will be best for the group. There are several eating places close but is that what we want? Suggests are requested or your opinion about what to do with this limited block of time, if anything. Please email me ASAP and also let me know if you are attending.
[cfinch4444 at aol.com]
Harold Vail stopped by our home on 12 June 2015. His wife, Desi, snapped this photo of (L-R) me, my daughter's Morki Poo and Harold. During lunch, we rekindled some precious memories and assisted each other with filling in some blank spots from our Hue Citadel, TET, Phu Bai and Dong Ha experiences. We also made a “I'll go if you go” pact concerning the Reunion and Memorial Dedication.
Today, months of frustrating coordination and scheduling efforts finally resulted in our successful registrations, and we are looking forward to renewing old and establishing new friendships at the Dothan and Fort Rucker events.
Please travel safely!!!
Gary O’ [Gary O’Shields, Catkiller 23/10/16, Hue Citadel, Dong Ha, 1967—68]
This week several notifications came from notable Birddog unit members as this trailer finally hit the internet. Familiar faces and personalities liven up this trailer and provide a theatrical measure to the words of William Shakespeare:“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be never so vile. This day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.”
This article concerns a man who has struggled and long–suffered from a serious medical condition, a fighter of equally extraordinary determination, and, of course, the living example of all we know of this well–loved man named Dick Eklund:
Eklund home address:
243 Woodland Road
Hampton, NH 03842
Please accept my apologies for sending this news electronically, but being able to do it more personally is impossible due to the legions of people who asked to be kept updated.
As you probably all know, Dick has been at Mass General Hospital since before Christmas. His leukemia is back after more than a year's courageous battle. He also has a fungal pneumonia. We had a meeting today and the plan is for him to go home to NH probably on Monday. Palliative care will start and then hospice will take over if needed. I am sad to say that my "Eye of the Tiger" warrior brother is not going to pull through this. He will go to NH to his home, his bed, his dog Lola and his wife Lydia where he will finish out his last days or weeks.
He loves his family and friends and told me he is happy that he really lived his life. He knows about and appreciates everyone's prayers and well wishes. As he stated himself earlier this year, it is amazing that he survived last year and through both his and Lydia's birthdays in May and June. He also hung tough for their 45th anniversary in October. I'm sure Lydia would appreciate any cards or notes and she or other family members can read them to Dick when he's home.
Please share this with other friends and people who know Dick and may want to be aware of this. Please, hug everyone you love every chance you can.
Love you all,
Deb (and Tony)
UPDATE: 13 JANUARY 2015:
Dick Eklund fought a good fight for a lengthy period of his life but died in dignity this morning. That is all we can reasonably expect, and with a strong presence of family and friends in his life it has been a easier process. Lydia, his wife, and Debbie, his sister, were highly involved and protective. His passing is mourned by many who loved him and appreciated his exemplary style and manner. I pray for peace for all who knew Dick, and like his sister wrote above, "Please, hug everyone you love every chance you can."
I am very sorry to say that Dick Eklund 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' this morning. A celebration of his life will take place sometime in March. We lost a GOOD one today!
This is certainly not the news we wanted to hear, despite expecting it any time. I am so glad we had that time together last summer. We've lost another great one. Thanks so much for keeping me in the loop.
How very very sad.
From Delta Airlines Personnel regarding Captain Richard A. Eklund: (20 January)
June 10, 1944 — January 13, 2015
Word has been received with the passing of retired Delta pilot Captain Richard ‘Dick’ Eklund, age 70. Captain Eklund had battled leukemia this past year. He is survived by his wife Lydia. Captain Eklund joined Delta Air Lines 02–08–1973 and was based Boston then JFK/031 at the time of his retirement. Arrangements are not yet known.
Personal condolences may be sent to the family at 243 Woodland Road, Hampton NH 03842-1536 [phone] (603) 601–2641
Thanks to Catkiller Curt Perry, this Sleeping Dog Productions video, The Gift, is a story of the life and service of Bill Hoover and is one that deserves review by all pilots. He probably had something to do with the research and development of an aircraft you flew. It is a biographical film that dramatizes the life of R.A. Bob Hoover, it will premier at EAA Oshkosh Warbirds in Review 2015:
Perhaps this is start of something presumptuous, but if the shirt fits you can put it on (so to speak). There must be something in there that relates to aviation (Your Army Air Force is in there):
On January 25, I sent out a request for assistance in the form of a donation from anyone who might possess a large external drive. The purpose of my request was to improve the increasingly worsening situation of the separation of site files and “working or original files.” This had become an uncomfortable and awkward situation that made it difficult to locate and store needed records for easy access. The external drives I had continually purchased were quickly not sufficient to support consolidation of files, thus they were being fragmented into other similar drives. Since they were not together, it became time-consuming to find an item.
Within a few days there were several offers of financial assistance and questions about how the responder might help. On the third day, my friend and fellow OCS classmate, and flight school classmate, and later platoon-mate in the 4th Platoon at Phu Bai, Glenn Stewart, stated in an email that he had a large drive he could send. In a few days he had mailed the item to my home address. In the meantime, Jack Bentley offered to purchase from the Catkiller Store, which had sufficient funds, a 2TB external Western Digital drive. Both more than satisfied the requirements and arrived on the same day, Thursday, January 29; and by the close of day on January 31 all the web site files were consolidated and were being automatically backed up onto the 4TB donation drive from Glenn. An existing 1TB external drive is now set up to contain consolidated site and working files for the 97th Engineers.
I appreciate all the offers of help and encouragement and now enjoy the tools necessary to effectively maintain the web sites properly. This disk, too, is now backed up on the donated drive. All files are consolidated and separated from my personal files.
In the coming days, though I am in good health, I plan to well document what I do and, as an added security of data possessed, I will provide a briefing letter stating the operation, location and function of the assets someone would need should I no longer be able to serve as the webmaster.
Our files are already archived at three locations: within the two dedicated web site external drives, the web sites themselves (which are mirrored by our web site host, JustHost), and each October our site files are provided as a complete archive with the US Army Center of Military History. Too, I never depart my home on a trip without my MacBook Pro and the main drives and a series of backup flash cards or chips in my bags. I am anal about doing extra work to safeguard our files. I agree with concerns expressed about the worst-case possibility of theft or fire.
My objective to consolidate and make it easier to manage what I do is now complete, thanks to Jack Bentley and Glenn Stewart. The smaller drives previously used were just not working. I believe the solution of two larger portable drives will work well into the coming several years, especially as our history initiatives seem fulfilled. My desire is to have an off site backup separate from my home computer and time capsule system is fulfilled. The ultimate objective of having all original files and the web sites on at least three separate external disks (one a full backup capable device) is also fulfilled.
Donald M. Ricks, Webmaster
The following obituary is also available at the roster line for J. D. Richards. Recent contacts with Dave include his attendance at the 2012 Catkillers Reunion at Seattle and a series of communications with Dennis Currie as they worked together to build a web page for J. D. containing this aerial observer’s story from 1965. Our condolences to the family and friends of this outstanding Marine and peace officer. Anyone desiring to contact the widow, Wanda, can contact Dennis or the editor for a private email containing her phone number. Click on the obituary link at the bottom of the attached PDF file to leave a comment for the family:
To send a card:
Mrs. Wanda Richards
499 Galahad Dr.
Franklin, Indiana 46131
With thanks to Jerry DiGrezio for sending this concern to the Catkillers.org web site, the following list contains 144 links to assist veterans in finding help. The file is widely published, and you can search for the title on Google to see just how many sites contain this information.
Someone has gone to a lot of trouble. If this helps one person, then it was worthwhile. Below are the mentioned web sites that provide information on Veterans benefits and how to file/ask for them. Accordingly, there are many sites that explain how to obtain books, military/medical records, information and how to appeal a denied claim with the VA. Please pass this information on to every Veteran you know. Nearly 100 percent of this information is free and available for all veterans, the only catch is: you have to ask for it, because they won't tell you about a specific benefit unless you ask for it. You need to know what questions to ask so the right doors open for you and then be ready to have an advocate who is willing to work with and for you, stay in the process, and press for your rights and your best interests. Just be forewarned that over time some of the links might not work (this is not at the Veterans Administration web site, though, but at an uncomplicated US Coast Guard site):
To make it interesting, though, this Air America site will also have photographs of their aircraft used over the years!
Charles Finch and two other Vietnam veterans were honored to be guest speakers at the March 7 Vietnam Veterans 50th Anniversary Recognition Program at the Georgia National Cemetery. For photos, view the PDF file.
After several incidents of hacking, some resulting in inappropriate content, the merits of having our guestbook is not as favorable as initially thought. Scanty security features and the added work necessary to make the effort worth while preclude its use at our site. I regret having to remove the guestbook but will gladly receive your comments via email (see CONTACT US). Don Ricks
There is a mystery surrounding a unit patch worn on the right pocket of some aviators photographed by 2LT Bob Covino in 1965 or 66. If you look at his photos at Covino page on the 1965 History Index, the following patch is prominent in several of those earlier shots. Questions like: What was the patch, who authorized it, and for how long was it worn are a few we have. Can anyone help us out? If so, please contact one of our editors or the historian.
One of the best clear shots of the patch is the following, plus a scanned, focused crop in high resolution, but still fuzzy (circular patch with a light blue background and a narrow yellow fringe, three bladed prop with a map of S. Vietnam to the right side highlight its features. Looks like maybe a red "H" as the hub for the prop, and various colored text between the tips of the prop):
An image of Captain (then lieutenant) PJ Bates, Jr., surfaced from a collection of photographs taken during his 1970–71 tour in Vietnam by CW2 R. Brown Cabell, Catkiller 14/9. Finishing touches on the history of the 220th Aviation Company would not be as enlightening—if not for the thousands of submitted photo we use here but also archive each year with the United States Army Center of Military History. With genuine appreciation for his sharing of these excellent images, we can now begin work on a pictorial overview of the ferry flight conducted by unit pilots and crews from Phu Bai to Long Thanh North during December 1971. The flight leader was Captain Thomas J. Shaver, Operations Officer in 1971, now a retired lieutenant colonel, and he and the others delivered all the unit’s Birddogs for turn–in at destination. From that trip we now have new photos of individuals at their roster line, including one for PJ Bates.
Look for this historical overview in good time, but for now we share this rare photo of Captain Bates in hopes that others might recognize him from among their own cache of photographs. Don Ricks, Editor
Major Bill Everett, USA, Retired, shared a ‘major’ blessing with me today as he sent this note and link to an interview with Army Air Corps veteran Captain Jerry Yellin:
This fellow is part of the greatest generation leaving us. Wonderful interview. A class act regardless of age. Well worth the time to watch. One of the few WWII vets left. When you listen to what he says, you will understand why you are proud to be an American.
They simply don't make 'em like this any more. Take five minutes to watch this video interview — and listen carefully to what he says and how he says it. I promise you, you won’t regret a second of it.
Ask yourself, how many of the few surviving WWII veterans kept themselves and their uniform in such good condition for over 70 years and can still proudly wear it?
Notice his superb delivery, no Teleprompter, no script — just a 91–year-old fighter pilot representing the greatest generation at home and abroad who won WWII. He has some surprises and a great take on the philosophy of life.
Lately, a lot of photographs surfaced from the early years to the last flight in 1971. Rick Gates began the avalanche last year that still has the staff busy managing the influx and making decisions as to where might be the best place to use them. SP5 Dennis Iaeger (Phu Bai, November 1969 to December 1970) sent in his best, Bob Covino proved he was a super photographer in 1965, and as the new photos kindled new memories others came out.
For some time we have had a series of photos originally posted by Scott Cummings but at a low resolution and no story when the idea of a web site got underway; these were the Last Flight photos submitted by WO1 R. Brown Cabell, Aviation Maintenance Officer from the December 1971 aircraft turn–in flight. They are now being scanned again and will be the subject of a new history page for the History Index 1971.
A major benefit from all the new old photos surfacing is that we have numerous photo thumbnail additions for the Catkiller roster, as the one below will provide. We are currently working on several projects that will further historically enhance the page Dennis Currie arranged for his tour at Quang Ngai, some additions by Leonard Brand will also be published soon. As these new photos are passed around for subject year officers and enlisted men to comment upon and help identify people, even more photos come to light. One example is this one received today from SP5 Walter ‘Chip’ Boyce, Crew Chief, 3rd Platoon, Da Nang, Marble Mountain Air Facility, April 1967–April 68, after we passed around a few photos from SSG Lee Berry of the Da Nang platoon:
SSG Lee Berry photo 1: If anyone recalls the first name of SP5 Sawyer, please let us know:
SP5 Dennis Iaeger 1: If anyone recalls the first names of the other men, please let us know:
That is how history strays alive, and since we archive our site each October with the US Army Center for Military History these photographs take on more significance. Thank you to all who contribute and comment!
I am hoping this is worthy for inclusion in the 2015 yearly newsletter,with the photos. Dedicated to SP5 Michael Brown, Crew Chief; and Captain John Herring and all who flew that wonderful L–19, O–1 Birddog.
Tail number R72880 flies again—at 1/16 scale. Built and piloted by my brother-in-law, Chuck Miller, it now patrols the St. Clair River in Michigan. I have been reduced from back seat AO to front porch GO (ground observer).
HAVE A GREAT REUNION.
82nd Airborne 68-69
EDITOR: Sure it is worthy, Pete. Thank you! I know everyone will enjoy seeing the photos you sent.
Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon (right), presents Charles L. Deibert, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, a photo of the newly–dedicated building named in his honor, at the facility’s dedication ceremony, Aug. 28,  in Salem, Ore. Deibert, a former member of the Oregon Army National Guard, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, among other recognition, for heroic actions as a reconnaissance pilot during the Vietnam conflict. The new facility replaces the Army Aviation Support Facility #1, just off Turner Road, adjacent to McNary Field in Salem. Oregon Army National Guard units, including the 2–641 Aviation Battalion and 102nd Civil Support Team are headquartered in the new building. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zach Holden, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs):
Oregon Governor Ted R. Kulongoski (center), Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon (center right), Charles L. Deibert, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (center left), Lt. Col. (ret.) Keith D. Bauder, Division Chief of the Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Division, National Guard Bureau (right), and Warrant Officer–1 David McPherson, cut the ceremonial cake during the dedication ceremony for the Charles L. Deibert Operations Facility, Aug. 28, in Salem, Ore. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zach Holden, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs).
LTC Brian K. Amberger, US Army Retired, send a rare photo of his deceased father, taken on 13 May 1966 at Phu Bai. Captain Bill Amberger was a member of 220th Aviation Company from its activation at Fort Lewis, Washington, and moved with the unit to Vietnam in mid June 1965. Captain Amberger served at Hue–Citadel as Section Commander, 2nd Platoon. This photo was taken when Major William O. Schmale was commander of the 220th “Catkillers.”
We recently learned that Bill Amberger died in 1984 at Mobile, Alabama, and after retiring from the army. Brian has material from his father’s Vietnam service that he will share at a later date, including a brief obituary:
Caption: “Army CAPT, William J. Amberger is pictured above receiving the Air Medal from COL Howard B. St. Clair, senior U.S. Army aviator to the Republic of Vietnamís I Corps [who graduated West Point in 1939, was awarded the Silver Star during Korean War]. He is the son of MM Frank Amberger of Perrysville and has been in the Army since October of 1956. CAPT Amberger received the award for meritorious service in Vietnam from July 5 to July 29 of last year. He arrived overseas last July and is an Army Aviator with the 220th Aviation Co. in Hue Phu Bai.”
[EDITOR: The above photo and the one below are probably from the same awards ceremony, perhaps also when SP5 Harry I. Kee received his Crew Chief of the Month award in 1966 (see HISTORY INDEX 8). Transcribed by Dennis D. Currie, source of photo and caption unknown].
Brian Amberger, son of William Amberger, is from a traditionally strong, multi-generation military service family. His father, several uncles and a brother were career soldiers. Brian served several tours in the Middle East before retiring. [I requested any information that surviving original Catkillers might recall from their association with Bill Amberger. Don Ricks]
Over Bill Amberger’s right shoulder is Donald L. Johnson, over his left is Robert “Bob” J. Jordan, Jr..
Tom Murray II [Catkiller Original, 1965—66]
Yes, I remember both Woody and Bill very well. They were section leaders in the second platoon under Captain Dave Rogers. Additionally, I served under Bill Amberger’s brother, Joe Amberger, when I was in Germany in 1958–1962. Woody took charge of the operations aspect at the Hue Airport for Dave and did an outstanding job. Most significant was the impression he made on the Company Commander, Major Jerry Curry, with the set up for the Search and Rescue Map in Operations. Woody was a very dedicated officer who was energetic, exacting in details, and always wanting to be of assistance. Bill and I had several discussions about his outstanding brother, Joe, who, like Bill were avid hunters/outdoors men.
Bill and I did have a one–time discussion about landing slightly downwind at Hue with two Vietnamese in the back of the O–1. He assure me that it was an emergency evacuation and that the total weight of his passengers were certainly less than his weight! Dave Rogers was a witness to all this. Bill always went out of his way to assist in his bubbly way.
I certainly appreciated the total efforts made by both Woody and Bill.
Hope this will be of some help. I haven’t received any information about the “Birddog” reunion in October at Fort Rucker. If you have any info, please give me a heads up—as I would like to attend. Thanks,
Dick Quigley [Catkiller Original Operations Officer and originator of the Catkiller call sign]
I remember both Bill Amberger and Woody Woodhurst, so they must have made an impression (50 years). I recall Amberger as a rather large individual, steady, can do attitude. Woody was one with a southern sense of humor. As I recall [Anthony] Bartolo served a second tour in the 74th and favored the Beaver as his airplane (we had one in the 74th). I visited the 74th during my second tour (after rotary wing), and I recall Bartolo was there. Once upon a time Bartolo flew the Beaver to Xuan Loc (home of 74th’s 3rd Platoon) and Paul Watson and I took it for a flight. Once airborne we realized neither of was rated in the airplane but we landed safely. Watson resigned from army and flew for Air America.
Recognized many names from 74th and I’ll comment later.
Walter Chrobak [Catkiller Original; transferred for cross leveling to 74th Aviation Company a week after arrival with the 220th]
Editor: As a result of this series of emails we have a representative document many received during their fated call to service in Vietnam, a set of reassignment orders that said you were going overseas. Other names on Walter Chrobak’s shared orders are: Gerald W. Fudge, 2LT, Armor and Donovan E. Behny, WO–1, AV (both assigned to 220th, Fort Lewis); Donald R. Smith, WO1 (assigned to 221st, Ft Bragg); Charles B. Wilson, WO1, AV, 219th, Fort Hood); and Daniel A. Phillips, 1LT Arty, 74th):
Attached are orders to 220th and from the 74th Aviation Company back to USA. Also note that orders include statement “for further deployment OS. Mov of dependents to OS dest not auth.” Since this was NOT a TDY assignment I took my dependents (wife and daughter) with me to Fort Lewis. More about this when I send my narrative on the early days.
Second set of orders is from the 74th. I include these as Fred Bowen is on page two [not received]. I believe he was also in the 220th. Both Fred and I became platoon commanders in the 74th.
My early training before I got to the 220th, and long before I retired as Catkiller Historian:
Right after flight school I was assigned to the Aviation Section, HQ, 3rd Bn, 14th ACR, at Bad Hersfeld, Germany, as a Fixed–Wing Border Pilot on the East–West German Border, from Mansbach [there was also a LF Beacon (Range for our Loop Antenna) just outside the village near Hill 630] to the hill mass just north of the Autobahn Check Point to the west of the Eisenach East German Training Center. Our mission from Werve–Thompson AAF was to provide daily aerial recon and surveillance twice a day, 7 days a week, weather permitting. We had an L–19A (call sign Scrappy 72) and an H–13H (call sign Scrappy 71), with 30 caliber machine gun mount kits on both skids (unmounted—but available).
Our minimums in early 1960 were 0 to 1 mile visibility for FW, 0 to 1/2 mile for RW in the ADIZ and the 5K Zone, from the ground up to 3000' MSL – below the Frankfort–Berlin Flight Corridor – right across the Fulda Gap—our airfield elevation was 932 feet. We rarely flew higher than 1000 feet AGL within the Border Zone and along the border we were normally at 500’ AGL and 500 feet horizontally to the west of it. Most border flights were by the L–19 with the H–13 being used to check out specific locations and local command and control flights. Often flights required two 5-gallon cans of AVGAS strapped to the skids of the H–13. Our runway ran N — S, was 2200’ long and there was an 80’ difference between the South end (high) and the North end (low). We could take off level, turn left and drop into the Fulda River Valley, our contour training area, and fly south along the river up to the Fulda AAF at 1000' elevation and land straight in to the 600' N – S sod strip, perpendicular to the E - W 'standard' 2200' asphalt runway.
We became the 3rd Flight Detachment of the new 14th ACR Aviation Company at Regimental HQ in Fulda, when it was authorized in May 1960. We then also picked up the North Border to just east of Kassel, making the flight in the L–19 for the entire border trace about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending upon any activity and/or weather enroute. After the Berlin Wall went up in August 1961, we got the ADF installed in the now new L–19/O–1, and our minimums were then lowered to 0 to 1/2 for FW and 0 to 1/4 for RW—we had to carry a piece of string to hang a pencil from inside the bubble sometimes to keep our heads straight in a snow storm. Until we got the ADF and made up an Approach Plate off the AFN radio station at the Bad Hersfeld Sub–Post, we often used a DF steer with our FM radio if we got caught in weather—but after a few months we could almost actually ‘see’ map coordinates ‘pop up’ on the terrain.
After the Berlin crisis we had much more activity to report in ‘spot reports’ to Squadron Operations with the newly constructed border, towers and more troops. We did all of our AO training, and the Squadron S-2, Assistant S-2, S-3 Air and one FO from Howitzer Battery were normally on flight status. To maintain our instrument qualification we had to borrow a TL–19D from the Regimental Aviation Company and flew to various locations to get cross country navigation and an ADF, OMNI, ILS and GCA approach to renew our ‘tickets’ annually. We also supported platoon, company/troop and battalion/squadron level training in the field in the Fulda, Wildflecken and Grafenwohr Training Areas—and I also was able to fly my own air support for our artillery training with Howitzer Battery. I was at the airfield from January 1960 until May 1961 and then was on ground duty from May until early December 1962 as a FO assigned to a Cav Troop, then as FDO for night tank gunnery and then Battery XO. I maintained my border qualification throughout the entire time. It was a rewarding 3 year tour of duty - even with a CAV outfit.
ARMY 51-5011, our L–19A, was my primary aircraft for 1960–62—with many exciting experiences:
Long ago, in a land far away, I somehow came up with a 12 string guitar. It is an instrument used in the 60’s—by the Kingston Trio, PP&Mary, and the whole folk era. It was broken when I got it , likely in Pleiku or Nha Trang. I can’t remember whose it was. Some braces inside were cracked and the pull of all those steel strings was too much for it. It was useless to any real guitarist—but a good Scotsman will nay see such things tossed.
I scrounged up a set of 6 nylon strings, used a few leftovers and some fishing line to string it at a much lower stress. But an important piece, called “the nut” (that guides the strings at the top of the neck), was missing. In spite of the guitar having been made in Saigon, that city was far away and time was dear. So, I fit in a piece of plastic from an item I had no other use for then (or now) - a GI issue hair comb. Many a Hello Phu Bai Tower, Tet Carols and other hooch hootenannies resulted.
Terry Scruggs saw to it that it went to my mom when I was medevaced, and it sat in the attic for many many years. Last month, I met a local luthier who loved the story, and especially the comb nut. He repaired the broken braces and, I re-strung the guitar. The old photo is from 1968, taken by my hooch-mate Lee Harrison in Phu Bai. Fun to re–take it, re–learn this guitar, and remember a time when simply making do was a necessity—and ingenuity rewarded.
Rod Stewart [Catkiller 13/3, 1968]
Well, we have a new home for the Catkiller Memorial built by Al Paulsen, complete with wall rubbings from the Vietnam Memorial obtained by Dick Tobiason. Three of us (Al Paulsen, Gene Wilson and I) dropped off the memorial yesterday at the new location for the Heritage Flight Museum, Skagit Regional Airport (KBVS), Burlington, Washington.
We met with Kate Simmons, Director of Programs & Administration, regarding what we were leaving with them and she seemed please to get the Memorial and a few other items of a personal nature. Don Ricks also sent them a DVD copy of the Catkiller web site. Gene Wilson brought a few personal items: a signed copy of The Loveable One-Niner by Minard D. Thompson, Gene’s original combat maps from Vietnam and other personal items.
I left with them several things: my orders to Vietnam, sheet pinned with my name tag, wings, awards, rank, etc.—as worn on my fatigues (plus the awards)— a 1:250,000 map of I Corps showing our bases and other important locations, mounted on hardboard, a 1:50,000 map of the Da Nang area, brochure from our last reunion. I also left for the museum founders, a Catkiller sign, two Catkiller Patches and two Blue Catkiller hats.
The web site for the Heritage Museum is as follows: Heritage Flight Museum Web Site
If you want to send along to the museum some personal items for their display, you need to include a sheet with all your personal information so they can contact you regarding your donation of items. What they DON’T NEED, are collections of aviation books, etc.. What they DO NEED are personal items from your Vietnam experience, along with who you are, when you served, where, etc..
Contact Kate at the following email for more information. Kate Simmons email
A last thing. Heritage cannot operate without funding. We can help a little here by buying a membership and/or making capital campaign donations. See online for details. If you donate, let them know you are a Catkiller:
- Heritage is a flying museum. Note on the web site the aircraft that they currently have flying.
- There is a planned gathering at the Heritage Flight Museum on 6 November in Burlington, Washington, to to officially acknowledge the memorial has a permanent home.. I am going to try to attend, but I am not an organizer of that event.
- Several from the Northwest area indicate they will be there to help mark the occasion.
UPDATE: 28 October:
We recently received the following email from Norman MacPhee, who helped arrange a permanent home for the Catkillers Vietnam MIA/KIA memorial board built by Al Paulsen for the 2012 reunion held in Seattle. Through efforts of several members in Washington State, including Dick Tobiason, the Heritage Flight Museum located at Burlington, Washington, agreed to house the memorial board.
An official but small ceremony is planned to acknowledge the event on 6 November 2015, and several from the area are expected to attend and help express our appreciation for the honor of having our memorial board located at a facility so close to Fort Lewis where our unit was formed in 1965. If anyone is in the area and can attend the event, please contact the museum and let them know you will be there, or let the Editor know as I expect to be in the area visiting relatives during that time. Don Ricks
Meeting Starts at: 11:00 AM, 6 NOVEMBER, at Heritage Flight Museum
Catkiller Representative: DICK TOBIASON
Attached are copies of donation envelopes for the Heritage Flight Museum. Any funds sent to them in the name of the Catkillers would assist them with setting up our items for display.
If anyone wants to send them personal items for display there they should contact Kate Simmons, Director of Programs and Administration:
Skagit Regional Airport (KBVS)Items they are most interested in are things that came from our time in Vietnam. I left them my assignment orders to Vietnam and a display of my uniform (rank, nametag, wings, awards and unit awards). They have the 1:250,000 map of I Corps, which I prepared for the 2012 reunion showing our bases and SF Camps, etc. Gene Wilson left them his personally used 1: 50,000 combat maps.
15053 Crosswind Drive
Burlington, WA 98233
AFTER ACTION REPORT—HERITAGE FLIGHT MUSEUM (Update 14 November):
There are numerous photographs coming in from attendees that show smiles and joy of those photographed at the museum and in the air. This was an event advertised as a Special Thank You session, on site, with the founder, MG William Anders and his son Greg, the museum’s staff and those from our Catkillers and Friends who could be there in person. Rather that try to capture the essence of our group activities with my words, I plan to enter the email notes from those who have written and then show photos published as a PDF file. That way you can have your own copy. The one photo here below is a pose requested by Greg Anders and taken in front of the O-1 that flew one very lucky selected Catkiller that day:
A secondary but nonetheless significant and pleasurable event occurred just after the originally scheduled ceremony where Dick Tobiason provided the emcee services for the 220th. The second event was a surprise award to Gene Wilson in the form of a Certificate of Appreciation and a Letter of Appreciation signed by MG Jerry Ralph Curry. This ceremony is now included in the PDF file below:
Heritage Flight Museum,
Skagit Regional Airport (KBVS), Burlington, Washington
While we await the 2015 reunion report, please preview this news clip courtesy of Greg Phillips, News Reporter for the Dothan Eagle:
High Resolution Version of All Birddog Unit Memorial Brick panel nearest Catkiller panel
You can copy and have your own file to do with as you wish, including zoom in and out to view details.
Photo by Don Ricks
Here is the website information for all pictures taken by our reunion photographer:
REUNION PICTURES - Our official photographer for the reunion was Tim Skipper. Tim has edited all the pictures taken throughout the reunion and has posted them on a special website. IMPORTANT! Read this carefully: This website allows you to download all the pictures you want for FREE. There is no license or copyright restriction. In addition, for additional costs, you can create a printed & bound reunion book that can be sent to your home or given as a gift. Tim placed an INSTRUCTION BOX ON THE WEBSITE TOP LEFT SIDE for helping you download one, two, three, etc. or all photos.
Bob Brewster, Reunion Coordinator
Kneeling: William Johns. Gary O'Shields. Harold Vail. Jerry DiGrezio, Charles Finch. Rod Stewart, Dick Wells. Carl Dreschel.
Second Row: Jim Gaunt, Phil Caverhill. Daryl Wesley, Thomas Clark, Bo Boutwell, Sarge Means, Paul Brennan. Jerry Bonning, Don Mann, Bud Bruton, Bob McComiskie, Grayson Davis, Brown Cabell, Merle Mulvaney
Third /Fourth Row: Patrick Snyder, Leonard Brand, Herb DeGroft John Dillingham, Jack Bentley, Dave Ohare, Clyde Trathowen, Don Pepe, Gary Copp, Rick Gates, Paul Smith, Curt Perry, Randy Jones
Several were not aware of the photo opportunity and were not present for the group shot of the moment.
After action report by Bob Brewster, Reunion Chairman:
Memorial Brick Request Form
Sample of Memorable Photos, All Birddog Reunion Overview, Adobe PDF File, By Don Ricks
A good number of Catkillers out west met at Tucson for a mini–reunion and sent back this photo. Their wives also attended, except Mrs. Decker. Rumors are that Catkiller Provider Roger Putnam set the meeting up to the smiles of all, as you can see.
An interesting page by Toby’s son shows a rare photo of Toby as a young man (link below the reunion photos):
Here is a supplement sent from Bob Brewster. There is a survey he requests everyone take. This is important and has several facets to which many will want to provide feedback, first Bob’s email converted to PDF and followed by the attached survey link in the email:
Dick Tobiason was excited to find (again) this “old” photograph. Well, they are not old photographs—just perhaps now–older folks suspended in another time:
It’s a treasure, Dick!
There is an additional benefit to viewing the above photograph and yet another cause to smile: Dick Tobiason continues to serve veterans on many different level. The following is one example of an upcoming activity in Oregon:
The 338 mile Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway on Oregonís US 101 will be dedicated in Building 7021 at Camp Rilea, 33168 Patriot Way, Warrenton, OR at 11:00 am, Saturday January 9. The highlight will be the unveiling of a highway sign by donors and veterans. At the end of the below photos is a photo of the first sign already installed near the north end of US 101 in Warrenton. Nine more signs will be installed and dedicated in early 2016 along the beautiful Oregon coast between Astoria and Brookings.
The signs honor Oregon's and our nation's veterans who served during the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars beginning 25 years ago. Approximately 89,800 Oregon veterans served with 112 making the ultimate sacrifice while 680 veterans were wounded. Thirteen veterans who lived along US 101 lost their lives between 1990 and 2008. Twenty five percent of the 331,000 veterans living in Oregon served during these most recent wars.
This border to border veterans memorial highway on US 101 is the first of its kind in our nation and is the latest of 6 highways in Oregon honoring nearly one half million Oregonians who served, the 6,022 veterans who lost their lives and 15,000 who were wounded during 5 major wars over the last 98 years beginning with WWI. Seventy five percent of the veterans living in Oregon today served during war and 25% served during peacetime.
Thirty eight of the planned 67 signs have already been installed on the 6 highways: WWI Veterans Memorial Highway (US 395), WWII Veterans Historic Highway (US 97/SR 126), Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway (I-5), Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway (I-84), Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway (US 101) and Purple Heart Trail (I-5). The 6 highways total 2,040 miles in length. For more information, see:
Bend Heroes Highways
Please let me know by return email if you plan to attend the dedication on Jan. 9 so I can update our Camp Rilea host.
There will be more opportunities to attend sign dedications on US 101 tentatively planned for Tillamook, Newport, Florence, Reedsport, North Bend, Bandon, Port Orford and Brookings. We plan to install at least 10 signs on US 101 with half in each direction.
PLEASE PASS THE NEWS TO ALL PERSIAN GULF, AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ VETERANS YOU KNOW SO THEY WILL KNOW WE HONOR THEM AND WILL NEVER FORGET THEIR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE.
Tax deductible donations can be sent to the non-profit Bend Heroes Foundation, 1900 NE 3rd St., Ste. 106, #205, Bend, OR 97701. Donations can be made on the Foundationís web site: www.bendheroes.org
Legislation for the 6 war veterans highways was requested by Bend Heroes Foundation beginning in 2008. The Foundation has managed the project in cooperation with the legislature, veterans groups, sign sponsors and ODOT. All signs are funded by generous donations to Bend Heroes Foundation. The Foundation uses the donations to pay ODOT $900 to fabricate and install each sign on US 101.
Contact: Dick Tobiason, Chairman, Bend Heroes Foundation 541.390.9932, email
A recent report from Jim Hooper is that his widely acclaimed book, A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying With the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969 (Paperback), is now in its fourth printing by Zenith Press. Hard cover and Kindle versions are also available from Amazon.com.